Comments: opinions before Lambeth

Gene Robinson is just so inspiring! I can't wait to hear him in Putney tomorrow.

If you haven't yet pickied up the links to his blog and video diary of his visit to England:

http://tinyurl.com/5smt4q

http://tinyurl.com/6y784o

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 10:03am BST

Ref the "Facebook Identity Crisis" article.

I am glad this discussion is slowly getting more and more prominence. It is more of a psychological than a spiritual/religious topic, but still relevant here. There is a broad overlap.

I was first aware of the seriousness of the problem after reading a book - Remotely Controlled by Aric Sigman ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/Remotely-Controlled-Television-Damaging-Lives/dp/0091906903/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1215852504&sr=8-1).

It quotes a lot of scary research about how TV and computer use alters brain development in children. Basically they need to be exposed to "normal" human interactions to develop, and learn how to operate in society, but they are deprived of this if exposed to too much TV or computer time instead. This is independent of whether the TV images are appropriate or violent.

He quotes some interesting research that shows that the murder rate in any given society doubled about 15 years after the introducton of TV to that society, a finding that was fairly consistent throughout the world. I see the reports of knife crime in London and wonder whether the issues are linked. Young men who spend their lives in the TV/Computer world, and not the real world, have not been able to develop the complex psychological and social skills and values that enable them to negotiate life safely and appropriately.

When Richard Doll first told us that smoking causes cancer 50 years ago he was not believed. Smoking was healthy and the coughing helped you clear your lungs in the morning. I wonder how long it will take us to accept that TV is similarly damaging to human development, especially in children.

Simon

Posted by Simon Dawson at Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 10:08am BST

Well VGR is no more perfect than any other bishop or archbishop, living or dead - including the high likes of self-proclaimed rightly-alined role models like Jensen of Sydney, Akinola of Nigeria, Duncan of Pittsburgh, Schofield of the virtual Southern Cone that does not canonically exist yet but is said to be appearing soon on canonical reality screens just as soon as canons catch up with Schofield, and well the list of palpably imperfect exemplars is long.

Jensen and/or Akinola and/or Duncan and/or Schofield and/or Iker and/or Mark Lawrence and/or Orombi and/or Nazir-Ali and/or Venebles and/or Gomez - allegedly being so blessed as to be straight without taints of queer sin - do feel free to cast the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth stones. Each subsequent rock gets heavier, each is heaved pretty much right at all the vulnerable spots of queer folks' bodies, minds, hearts, souls, and above all, committed relationships plus any community service that might be going on among these thoroughly awful queer folks.

VGRs book might have been called, Called by God to be a lightning rod in the storm.

Yet despite all the hard rock throwing, we can discern an out of control openness in the standing invitation to God's kingdom feast - as further nominations for adoption by God (in the Holy Spirit through innumerable means and pathways, not just through a strictly conservative reading of selected scripture passages?) boldly add in people of so many different modern sorts to that other virtual reality which does register on our sacramental mystical visionary radar screens, the body of Christ.

Note: apparently, further adoptions are planned by God in Jesus of Nazareth. You know, the one we killed and still could not shut up.

Despite this or that imperfection, I find myself resonating to VGR much of the time. He and I share generational contexts, in USA no doubt. He comes from a lower economic strata and so did I. He wasn't supposed to exist in the idealized conservative religious schemes of things, properly located squarely inside the proper and properly categorical and mutually exclusive male/masculine and female/feminine schemes of eternal things, and probably neither was I. Yet, here we all are, imperfect.

So thanks loads, VGR. And thanks too to bishop Alan.

Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 12 July 2008 at 5:32pm BST

The article on Bishop Wilson's blog seems to be accepted by both sides of the debate, yet in says that +Gene is 'publicity-seeking' and that he considers being gay to be the most important thing. This is poisonous nonsense. +Gene wishes to preach the love of God for all of us through Christ Jesus. he is being obstructed in so doing by those who discriminate against him because of his sexuality. And so he gets drawn into constantly speaking and writing on the gay issue. His article in the Guardian shows what he is all about - preaching the word of God, and hardly mentioning the 'gay issue' at all.

Posted by Sam R at Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 2:54am BST

What is so intriguing about this whole issue of homsexuals in the Church is that they have always been there - albeit, not usually drawing attention to their difference but quietly getting on with the propagation of the Gospel.

What Bishop Gene has done that is different, in answering the calle of God and his diocese to become the bishop of New Hampshire, is to share the truth about his true sexual nature, and is willing to express the fact that he believes that this is no impediment to serving God and the Church as a clergyman.

Is not this willingness to 'run the gauntlet' of institutional opposition a point in his favour - rather than a reason for his vilification? It would have been so easy to perpetuate a 'cover-up'. Instead of which Bishop Gene chose to come out of the closet, at great risk to his personal safety. Good on him!

Surely, the decision he has made - to be honest about his sexuality - is a mark of integrity, in the face of the institutionalised hypocrisy that has hitherto been forced upon gay clerics called into the ministry of the Church.

Perhaps Bishop Gene conscientiously disagrees with the assertion of the dissenters, that there is specific reference in Scripture to Jesus banning same-sex relationships. As the 'Word-made-flesh', Jesus (at least for his followers) must maintain pre-eminence over the words of Scripture - especially in his teaching about the New Covenant of Love.

As Saint Paul reminds us, "through the Cross of Christ we have been delivered from the curse of sin and death".

The truth is that, whatever our protestion of personal piety (on this and other matters), we are all sinners. We need to be constantly reminded that God only has sinners to preach the Gospel!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 6:19am BST

Rather dotty reply of Bishop Alan Wilson to a woman who wrote him a long critical letter. He accused her of Pelagianism! Surely this is the most facile of theological smears.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 7:17am BST

What is so intriguing about this whole issue of homsexuals in the Church is that they have always been there - albeit, not usually drawing attention to their difference but quietly getting on with the propagation of the Gospel.

What Bishop Gene has done that is different, in answering the calle of God and his diocese to become the bishop of New Hampshire, is to share the truth about his true sexual nature, and is willing to express the fact that he believes that this is no impediment to serving God and the Church as a clergyman.

Is not this willingness to 'run the gauntlet' of institutional opposition a point in his favour - rather than a reason for his vilification? It would have been so easy to perpetuate a 'cover-up'. Instead of which Bishop Gene chose to come out of the closet, at great risk to his personal safety. Good on him!

Surely, the decision he has made - to be honest about his sexuality - is a mark of integrity, in the face of the institutionalised hypocrisy that has hitherto been forced upon gay clerics called into the ministry of the Church.

Perhaps Bishop Gene conscientiously disagrees with the assertion of the dissenters, that there is specific reference in Scripture to Jesus banning same-sex relationships. As the 'Word-made-flesh', Jesus (at least for his followers) must maintain pre-eminence over the words of Scripture - especially in his teaching about the New Covenant of Love.

As Saint Paul reminds us, "through the Cross of Christ we have been delivered from the curse of sin and death".

The truth is that, whatever our protestion of personal piety (on this and other matters), we are all sinners. We need to be constantly reminded that God only has sinners to preach the Gospel!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 9:39am BST

Not only Pelagianism, Vatican II, but also Gnosticism (of all things) a little further down. Sometimes, and with increasing frequency, I despair of our bishops.

Posted by MRG at Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 10:09am BST

While I don't believe that what I am about to say applies to +Robinson, for whom I am developing more admiration daily, I'd like to address the following two points:

"Is not this willingness to 'run the gauntlet' of institutional opposition a point in his favour"

Not necessarily. This can sometimes be self-aggrandizement. Being a victim fighting against one's oppressors is practically the only kind of human being validated by society. Notice how everybody is rushing to declare themselves part of some group or other that is "demanding their rights" or "oppressed" and fighting that. It isn't just gay people, it's everybody. It is quite strong in the conservative/GAFCON crowd. They are all about how they are fighting the oppressor, it's their raison d'etre. I don't think +VGR is guilty of this all the same, just that it is not a forgone conclusion that "running the gauntlet of institutional opposition" is a selfless or admirable act.

"the decision he has made - to be honest about his sexuality - is a mark of integrity"

Again, not necessarily. One of the pieces linked in one of the other threads speaks of family gatherings in which there are certain things left unsaid for the sake of familial peace. I don't have much time for the idea that expressing every idea or belief is a good thing. It isn't about dishonesty, it's about respect for others and an understanding that sometimes it's better to keep the peace than it is to be "in your face" about everything. I'm not accusing +VGR of anything here, as I said my admiration for him as an icon of Christian meeknesss and toleration keeps growing. I'm just saying that these two ideas are not necessarily generalizable. I'd even say they cause trouble. GAFCON believe they are running the gauntlet of institutional opposition, and standing with integrity for the Gospel, and being honest about their beliefs. Imagine what would happen if they just took the position that they should keep it to themselves for a little while, like for instance, the length of time it takes to hold a conference at Lambeth, and listen to other people instead of loudly proclaiming their own victimhood.

Posted by Ford Elms at Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 10:11am BST

Sam
The article on Bishop Wilson's blog comes from the Daily Mail, a conservative, tabloidy paper that is suspicious of everyone who isn't male, English, white, middle class, straight and votes Conservative.
Their assessment of Gene Robinson is quite benign in the circumstances.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 10:21am BST

Ford
"I don't have much time for the idea that expressing every idea or belief is a good thing"

I agree, it is often safer and more polite not to express certain political or other ideas.

But I'm not sure it should apply to having to hide, not what you believe but who you are.
There can be real family peace and togetherness if I do not talk about my faith to rabid atheists.
But there can be no genuine family togetherness if I have to pretend to be a completely different person from the one I am.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 14 July 2008 at 7:53am BST

"I'm not sure it should apply to having to hide"

I agree. I was speaking more generally. And it is not an all or nothing thing either. Pretending your "friend" is nothing more than that is a lot more of a problem than pretending you absolutely love Aunt Mabel's hideous flower print dress, or her obnoxious husband for that matter.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 14 July 2008 at 3:38pm BST
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